Review of Learning Teaching from Experience

Meg Maguire has authored a review of Janet Orchard and my edited collection Learning Teaching from Experience: Multiple Perspectives and International Contexts that has been published in the Journal of Education for Teaching (JET). It is available to download if you click here. The book is now available in paperback (for example, via Waterstone’s) and the introduction I wrote with Janet you can get from the Chapters section of this website.

Now, since March, Meg has been my next door neighbour at King’s so it’s worth pointing out a. she wrote this before she knew I would be camped out next door; b. if you know Meg, you will realise she doesn’t go by the nickname Merciless Mag of Battersea for no reason.

I think the lack of coverage from the southern hemisphere is a big issue with a book that claims an international perspective, particularly. And Janet and I are planning on getting this right (or right-er) with the follow-up. Meg doesn’t dwell on this but I also wish we had done the introduction differently. Although Janet and I said we wanted to trace the history of the idea of learning to teach from experience, what we did ended up being too philosophical in orientation – and too ‘Aristotle 101’ too, I think.

My favourite sections of the book are the chapters by Daniel Muijs (a quant analysis of Teach First – basically, ‘close but no cigar’); Tom Are Trippestad’s analysis of  the 2010 White Paper ‘The Importance of Teaching’ and the curious kairos of Mr Gove; Torie Weiston-Serdan’s teacher-researcher account of what it is to be caught up in the edu-industrial complex in California; and Ken Zeichner’s political discussion at the end.

And, of course, Madeleine Grumet’s partly autobiographical account of what she has learned from experience – as a teacher, leader and researcher. Madeleine’s chapter made two contributions in particular: first, she coined the term ‘the reflection racket’ to describe the dominant tradition of thinking about learning from experience; second, when asked to sum it all up, this learning from experience thing, she said: ‘like riding the A-train, it’s all in the knees.’

Janet and I were really pleased that the review noted the diversity of perspectives. For us, that’s a strength of education as a discipline: you can bring many different sets of intellectual tools to try to answer its key questions.